“For Whom the Dog Barks”
How many days has it been since everyone disappeared? Two, three days? A week? I haven’t slept much since I woke up that first morning. It was a Tuesday; I know that much. To paraphrase Arthur Dent, “I never got the hang of Tuesdays.” Sure, he was fictional. Now that I’m alone, it’s like everyone I ever knew was fictional. Did they ever exist to begin with? I’m not sure anymore. But none of that matters because, I’m tired and high. Oh and by-the-way, getting high after the apocalypse? Mostly just scary. I need to sleep – getting loopy.
I woke up this morning early. I don’t know how much sleep I got. Not much. I’m sore from all the walking after my car ran out of gas. Feet hurt. But I feel a lot better than I did yesterday. My lifetime of laziness and bad posture have come roaring down on me since whatever the fuck happened, happened. Look at me, barely in my mid-to-early-late-thirties and I feel like I’m ninety-nine. Maybe not that bad; let’s not get too grim.
It was all the same up until it wasn’t. It sounds stupid, but its true. Life was normal and I was just there and part of it like everyone else and then – everyone else wasn’t. I don’t know where they went. I don’t know why it happened. I have run every conceivable scenario through my head and they all sound insane. I’m not going to play the game of wondering if I’m crazy here, because that is a brain-maze I’d prefer not to get lost in right now. Now, aliens or magic or whatever; it’s too much for me to wrap my mind around- maybe it was the rapture and I’m the only one who didn’t get into Heaven. Figures.
The why doesn’t matter. It’s whatever you want it to be. Ten billion years of human history and we never really figured out the “why” of anything. I can’t even figure out how to syphon gas, apparently. I guess I only ever saw someone do it on TV. Oh well. At least I know how to ride a bike. Need to find a better one, get a pump and some extra tubes. Last thing I need is a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. Though, if I think about it, these days the middle of nowhere is everywhere.
I fell asleep earlier today in the shade of a tree. I had stopped there to get out of the sun and eat something. The cool of the shade and the sound of the tree was what I needed. I think I’ll start doing that more. Sleep in the daytime and pedal through the night. Feels safer somehow. Maybe I’ll get a tent. It’s quieter at least, not as much howling.
It was the dogs who let me know something wasn’t right. I had heard barking since getting up and out of bed. I mostly ignored it. It wasn’t until I stepped out onto the balcony for my morning cigarette that I realized just how off things were. From every direction, dogs were barking. Going absolutely nuts. My first thought, as I lit my precious morning cigarette, was of some natural disaster; tornados, earthquakes, that sort of thing. Animals can sense that sort of thing. But as I stood there, nothing happened.
The sky was clear. The earth stood still. I finished my cigarette. Out in the streets it was the same. Nothing moved. Leaves in the wind. But the dogs! I went a few houses over because I knew that the guy living there, Jerry, had dogs – a pair of black labs. I knocked; got no reply but barking. I waited. Maybe he wasn’t home – no, his car was in the driveway. I called Jerry. Nothing.
House to house, street to street, no one was home. No one answered the phone. I drove through the neighborhood. No joggers, no kids on the way to school, and weirdest of all – no traffic. Stores were empty. As if they had never existed, everyone had just up an disappeared over night.
Confused and frightened, I did the only thing I could think of. I went home and went to bed. I hoped and prayed that I would fall asleep and, when I woke, everything would be just as it had been the day before. I didn’t stay in bed very long. All I could do was stare at the ceiling and listen to the continuous barking of every dog in the neighborhood. The noise of it made me think I was going to lose my mind! Why couldn’t they just be quiet?
Then, my stomach rumbled.
Shit, I realized, they’re hungry.
So, I did the only sensible thing: I went back over to Jerry’s house and kicked in the door. Fortunately, his dogs knew me. I fed and watered them, let them out into the front yard. Then I searched the house for some sign of Jerry. Nothing. From there I walked from one house to the next and knocked. If there was no response, I moved on. If a dog barked or there was a cat in the window, I figured out a way to let them escape.
That’s what I’ve been doing for… I don’t know, a week or so? I don’t really keep track. What’s the point? I just keep moving; I cruise the suburbs on a stolen bicycle, shooting out windows with a BB gun. And as I pedal along, I’m followed by an ever-growing pack of liberated dogs and cats. Maybe one day I’ll run into another person. That would be nice. For now though, this is okay.